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CBN books

We often use picture books with teenagers, short extracts from adult books with primary school children, poetry and short stories for all age groups. It's not about a recommended level stamped somewhere on the back of a book. It's about making story - making text - exciting. Readers do not need to be trapped within the confines of graded readers.

Some books will be too difficult for a given age group, but a few sentences may lift them into another dimension of beauty in writing. They can cope - not only cope, but be moved into a different sphere in their own writing and understanding of their world. Nobody can write beautifully if they have not hear, and read, beautiful writing.

We will be buying books. If a book is used in a workshop, it should remain behind after the workshop as a resource for the children who were inspired by it.

We have a network here too. Children’s book experts in Europe and America are already telling us about the best of the best in their publishing. Most important of all, we have constant contact with, and information from our own South African book network - Bookchat, which has been edited by Jay Heale, first in print form and now on the Internet, for more decades than he cares to recall. We will be plundering this resource on a regular basis and Jay will also be looking after our book recommendations and permissions to publish short extracts on our website.


21 Jun 2021
One of our more difficult tasks is to find stories and texts that are completely suitable for the children we work with. This does NOT mean that everything they read has to come from their own...
26 Feb 2021
This is a picture of the CBN book collection in Lesley's office. It is made up of: Books from her own collection Books sent for review Books donated and working their way towards the book club Books...
12 Oct 2020
My favourite kind of people are the ones who say they are going to do something, ignore the muttered voices saying it isn’t possible, and then go right ahead and do it. Book Dash people are that sort...
10 Apr 2020
Calling all superhero kids! Dear Young Hero, Imagine you can choose your own superpower from one of these three: flying, invisibility, or being able to read.
7 Mar 2020
The reviews of children’s books by Jay Heale over the years will be maintained as a precious resource. His careful choices based on years of experience remain invaluable.
15 Jan 2019
Just before our holiday workshop that ended off CBN’s successful year, we were offered the gift of some books that our CBN children could take home with them – and own.
2 Nov 2018
Hi! We've just published new books at Book Dash. As always, they're ready for you to download, translate, print, and pass on freely. Download low-res PDF (English) Download source and print-ready...
1 Nov 2018
It is hard to give up something you have loved, but Jay Heale, our loyal book editor at CBN, has finally hung up his book review hat and decided to cease publication of Bookchat, his much-loved...
23 Oct 2018
Among the many worlds that man did not receive as a gift from nature but created out of his own mind, the world of books is the greatest… Without the word, without the writing of books, there is no...
2 Oct 2018
Quote by Anne Herbert. “Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.” ⇢
1 Nov 2017
A library is ... maybe the best place in the world to be locked in by mistake! Here are some other ideas by poet Nikki Giovanni
19 Dec 2016
Read at your own risk! Here are some of the most delightful books we won’t have seen in SA (unless I am very much mistaken) but books to make the heart of a child – and an adult – sing.
7 Oct 2016
Mike Fisher wrote the following extract in The Guardian newspaper (quoted from Jay Heale’s Bookchat, with thanks.) He’s right!
8 Sep 2016
Today is the day when the world should be focussing on literacy. We SHOULD be. It is the single best chance for a way forward in a troubled world.
18 Aug 2016
'It Wasn't Me!' by Lesley Beake, Gwendoline van der Merwe, and Alexandria Mackinnon has been published online by Book Dash and is available for download.
14 Jun 2016
Edition 215 of the Bookchat newsletter.
23 Apr 2016
World Book Day 2016 is here. The event is commemorated every year on 23 April by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) to promote reading, publishing and...
22 Apr 2016
Edition 214 of the Bookchat newsletter.
18 Mar 2016
A Cape Flats dad has converted his backyard into a library to encourage the children in his neighbourhood to read. What better news to close Library Week?
11 Mar 2016
Here, as promised, are the blogs and web reports (with pictures) of the Book Dash on Saturday. It was a truly splendid occasion!
10 Mar 2016
Google has counted the total number of books in the world arriving at a total of 129,864,880. Like most statistics, this number tends to vary, but it remains a significant amount of reading. To read...
9 Mar 2016
This year, IBBY (International Board of Books for Young people) has produced a short film of the authors and illustrators who have been nominated for what is known as the Nobel Prize for children’s...
5 Mar 2016
From our Front Line Book Correspondent at Centre for the Book
16 Feb 2016
Edition 213 of the Bookchat newsletter.
8 Feb 2016
At a recent panel discussion, Genevieve Hart, chair of IBBY SA described books for children as being: ‘Windows to look out at the world, and also windows to look back in.’
1 Feb 2016
In a panel discussion at a recent PRAESA event in Cape Town, Professor Genevieve Hart, gave the following statistics about libraries in South Africa.
21 Jan 2016
IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People is proud to announce the shortlist for the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award – the world’s most prestigious children’s book award:
30 Dec 2015
Lesley Beake and Jay Heale give some very last minute choices form their very favourite books (today). It might be different tomorrow!
16 Dec 2015
CBN was delighted to facilitate the donation of the children’s book collection of our beloved book editor, Jay Heale when it arrived at Enlighten Trust in Hermanus.
15 Dec 2015
The latest Bookchat Newsletter, Number 212, kindly supplied -free of charge - by Jay Heale.
28 Oct 2015
The story of the book Fly, Eagle, Fly! presented by Jay Heale Fly, Eagle, Fly! has become the most famous picture-book story in South African children’s literature. It has a past, a present, and...
29 May 2015
Today a very important and (for once one can accurately say), unique collection of books moved home.
2 Mar 2015
Saturday 28th February was a good opportunity for the Red Hill children to focus on libraries – their own small container library at the informal settlement where they live, and also the big library...
11 Dec 2014
CBN recently had a donation of books from long-standing friend, and editor at Cambridge University, Fiona McGregor. We asked Jay Heale to review the books for us!.Thank you, Fiona!
22 Nov 2014
Maurice Sendak and JRR Tolkien on the children and their books "I don’t write for children," Maurice Sendak scoffed in his final interview. "I write – and somebody says, ‘That’s for children!’"
10 Nov 2014
A book about a truly important thing – the ability to read
26 Oct 2014
Here’s a splendid quote from David Almond:
20 Oct 2014
Much loved South African picture book Not so fast Songololo, written and illustrated by Niki Daly, is on the the Guardian (UK) prestigious list of the 50 best children's books published from 1950 to...
18 Oct 2014
The South African classic, Fly Eagle Fly! has made it onto the Guardian (UK) prestigious list of the 50 best children's books published from 1950 to the present day that celebrate cultural and...
1 Oct 2014
Although it has been online for some years now, this IBBY selection of books from Africa remains a thoughtful and interesting guide.
16 Sep 2014
Both begin with C and both are totally absorbed in the topic of books – and reading.
15 Sep 2014
Those who work in the field of children’s literature do so because they know, deep down, that they are doing that is right. We are bringing children and books together. These are occasions when the...
14 Jun 2014
First published in the ReadRight educational supplement of the Sunday Times. Commissioned and published in book form by the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa in 2009
2 Jun 2014
Jay Heale celebrates the unsung heroines in the background of two very, very good picture books.
28 May 2014
This book was an unusual choice for workshops in Africa, but it is a book that is so much loved - even by people who criticise its sentimentality, that we decided to try it. The children in both...
27 May 2014
Since Anele Mhlahlo joined us in February, we have been enriching our workshops and activities with live music and adding a layer to the process of listening.
20 May 2014
ARABELLA, THE MOON AND THE MAGIC MONGONGO NUT by Hamilton Wende (Tafelberg 2013)
26 Mar 2014
This book, written by Katherine Appelgate and published in America by Feiwel and Friends in 2007 goes to every workshop with me – and never fails to make an impression, whether to elders in a writing...
31 Oct 2013
Ten books with HOME as a major theme Jay Heale's list of ten books that fit with CBN's first theme - Home. [Brackets indicate language availability]
25 Feb 2013
Books to Sweden – Books out of Africa There are many children living in Sweden who come originally from Africa – and many Swedish children who would like to experience stories from Africa.